UWP's Wilgus Hall celebrates 30 years of helping kids
PLATTEVILLE-Kids who need mittens and boots can play outside in wintry weather, thanks to the 30th University of Wisconsin-Platteville Wilgus Hall Christmas party.
Colorfully wrapped presents overflowed under the tree decorated by hall residents and children ages 1-12 waited their turn to tell Santa they've been good girls and boys.
"Wilgus really did an awesome job, putting a little shine into a holiday, that for some children, could have been a lot less merry," said Melcher Hall Resident Assistant Mark Bennett.
Bennett donned a red and white suit and pillow so he could play the part of the jolly old elf. With all that extra padding and fur trim it was a hot job, but well worth the sweat, said Bennett.
"Dealing with kids is one of my energizers, so I jumped at the chance to get involved," said Bennett, a civil engineering major junior from Beloit. "I am just glad to see some of the students and residents put back into the community that welcomes us back every year."
When not sitting on Santa's knee, there were lots of fun activities for the children, including face painting and munching and cheese and crackers. They also gathered around tables to make ornaments and frost cutout sugar cookies.
The Wilgus Hall annual Christmas party had its own celebrating to do.
Bringing out the best in both the community and UWP students, the party has helped underprivileged children for 30 years, said Wilgus Hall Resident Director Kelly Aldworth.
"We had 17 children joining us, with 10 not able to attend," said Aldworth. Money from local merchants and organizations makes the party possible, with $50 per child allocated. Thirty dollars is spent on clothing and $20 on toys and other gifts, she added.
"Thanks to the business and campus community, these children and their families will have a better Christmas this year," said Aldworth.
"The Wilgus Hall Christmas party is obviously a long-standing traditional program," said Aldworth. "Our hall takes a lot of pride in this - these kids are very thankful and very appreciative. It's a lot of fun to watch the kids. I heard one say, 'Omigosh I've always wanted this.'"
The students and hall council worked very hard on the party, said Aldworth. "It gave them prestige and sense of accomplishment. I'm very proud of them."
The event was co-coordinated by Pam Schrieber and Kristin Ostrowski, who worked with parents on a wish list.
"The Wilgus Hall Christmas Party was truly a great success, and the children found happiness," said Ostrowski, a Wittenberg resident and UWP sophomore majoring in criminal justice.
"It has impacted many children over they years and continues to do so. To bring that happiness to the children makes it all worth it and really brings out the holiday spirit," said Ostrowski. "Giving is a two-way street; you give something to someone and in return their appreciation is given back to you and is even more fulfilling than any object."
Ostrowski added, "To many, one act of kindness can mean the world and give happiness at the Wilgus Hall Christmas party and to give that back to part of the community is a magnificent feeling for all of the volunteers and people who have supported Wilgus' event."